Whether you're slinging drinks or managing the people who do, life working in the beverage industry can be exciting. Beverage managers and bartenders are the life blood of bars and restaurants, and both play important roles in keeping customers happy. The happier the customers are, the more money you are likely to be taking home.
Beverage managers are responsible for food service management, maintaining stock, staffing, bartending and the overall marketing and promotions of an establishment Keep in mind even though you are a manager, there will be times you are the friendly face serving from behind the bar. Formal education is not required to be a beverage manager, however, the University of Nevada Las Vegas offers a major in beverage management. The school advocates anyone interested in beverage management careers in the hospitality and food industry should have a well-rounded education in accounting, business management and general education. Imagine living in the city that never sleeps and earning a living. Opportunities are vast for beverage managers, and the work environment could be a nightclub, lounge, restaurant or hotel. Beverage managers, also known as bar managers, can make an annual salary in the range of $25,000 to $57,000, according to employment classifieds on Glassdoor.com.
Bartenders are often everyone's friend. Not only will you be tasked with mixing drinks and working with wait staff, but you should be proficient in the art of conversation. The better you are at talking to people and keeping them company, the more drinks you will be serving them. And as a service industry job, the more drinks you serve should equate to more tips in your pocket. There is no formal training required to be a bartender, but there are training courses in mixology and bartending techniques available in every state. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a bartender makes an average of $8.98 an hour, including tips.
Bartenders and beverage managers both serve drinks to patrons. Both positions will be responsible for making sure the bar is fully stocked, although the beverage manager will do the ordering of supplies and accounting. To work in either position, you will need to be at least 18 years of age. Wages vary for both bartenders and beverage managers, taking into account the location you work, as well as the shift and the amount of hours you work each week.
Beverage managers provide more of a supervisory role in the place of employment. For example, managers will hire staff and be responsible for disciplinary action. Bartenders aren't responsible for the hiring process and work for tips most of the time. This means that your wages will be largely determined by the number of people who visit your bar. If it's a slow shift, you could be strapped for cash. But if you are working events and special promotions, you could walk away with a substantial amount of cash. But to make the money as a bartender, your shifts will vary. This means you could be working nights, weekends and even holidays.
If you're looking for a job with a stable salary and regular hours, you should consider the role of being a beverage manager. Although you will have more responsibility at your job, you will likely be able to have your evenings to yourself. But if you enjoy the nightlife and the thought of bringing home cash tips every night, bartending may be your calling.
2016 Salary Information for Bartenders
Bartenders earned a median annual salary of $20,800 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, bartenders earned a 25th percentile salary of $18,650, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $28,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 611,200 people were employed in the U.S. as bartenders.
Shannon Jones is a news editor and writer based in Michigan. Her work has received several writing awards, including the Richard Lacourse Award for investigative journalism. Jones holds master's degrees in both administration and marketing.